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Historiographic Analysis of the Jamaican ‘Shakatani’ Scotoma from the Short Stories of Erna Brodber

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Objective: To use historiography in the analysis of the fictional writings of a Jamaican novelist to identify aspects of psychopathology of Jamaican people.

Method: Each of 12 stories of “The World is a High Hill” by novelist Erna Brodber was assigned an explanatory title and a ‘psychic centrality’. A narrative qualitative analysis of the fourteen main themes of each story was created using a Lickert scale, calculating the psychopathological penetrance or weighted significance of each theme.

Results: The four main psychic centrality containments that emerged from this analysis were the black/white racial paradox (n = 4, 33%) and the partisan/political paradox (n = 1, 8%), the sexual/duplicity paradox (n = 5, 43%) and the social/spiritual paradox (n = 2, 17%). Five of fourteen themes reached maximal penetrance: family (92%), representation of generations with families (92%), issues of intimacy (92%), sex (75%) and issues of dependency (67%). Seven themes – personal and social conflicts (64%), issues of child development (53%), sexual identity (50%), pregnancy (48%), and political (42%), racial (36%), and religious (33%) conflicts reached moderate penetrance. The two themes of migration (30%) and homosexuality (14%) reached minimal penetrance.

Conclusions: The analysis reveals a profound and practical historiographic representation of the contemporary scotoma that currently paralyses many Jamaicans as a product of the enslavement of Africans in the New World, and mirrors the clinical syndrome of personality disorder revealed from contemporary Jamaican medical research.

25 Mar, 2013
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e-Published: 26 Aug, 2013
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